Energy Shortages

Update: 20 January 2023

The situation regarding potential energy shortages in Switzerland has eased up. The relatively mild winter so far, full gas storage facilities in Germany and reservoirs in Switzerland as well as the restarting of nuclear power plants in France are making drastic measures by the Swiss federal government less likely this winter. The energy dashboard of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy provides an up-to-date overview of the energy supply in Switzerland:
SFOE Energy Dashboard

In recent months, UZH has developed multiple scenarios and action plans that it could implement if stricter energy-saving measures are ordained by the federal government. In addition to general energy-saving measures, depending on the decision, individual UZH buildings may be vacated to reduce energy consumption. The focus will be on large buildings with high energy consumption.

Strategy of UZH

UZH has established an Energy Shortage Management team similar to the previous Pandemic Management.

The university is pursuing a two-pronged strategy:

  1. By saving electricity and gas, UZH is helping to avoid drastic consequences such as grid shutdowns.
  2. UZH is making preparations to avoid risks to humans and animals as well as major material and immaterial damage in the event of grid shutdowns. 

Current measures at UZH

UZH is already implementing the following energy-saving measures to reduce its electricity and gas consumption:

  1. Exterior and interior lighting is reduced to a minimum unless it is relevant to safety.
  2. The target temperature in UZH buildings will be set to 20° C.
  3. All UZH employees are asked to take voluntary energy-saving measures.

UZH has thus voluntarily adopted the measures decided by the Government Council of the Canton of Zurich at the end of September.

Planning further measures

The UZH Energy Shortage Management team is currently developing scenarios for further measures in consultation with the faculties and the Executive Board of the University in the event that gas or electricity are no longer available in sufficient quantities. The scenarios are designed to ensure that UZH’s core operations (teaching, research and clinical care) can be continued to the greatest extent possible and for as long as possible.

The planned measures are currently focused on the following areas:

  • Switching heating supply at two sites: There are two sites at UZH where it is technically possible to change the heating supply from natural gas to heating oil (BOT and FOR)
  • Protecting critical infrastructure: Data centers, NMR, freezers containing samples, lab equipment, etc. are critical infrastructure which must be protected from power outages or network instability. The energy shortage management team together with the faculties will determine which devices are affected and draw up measures accordingly.
  • Closing buildings: The energy shortage management team will assess which of the university buildings used for administration could be closed in case of a severe energy shortage.

How much energy does UZH use?

Energieverbrauch an der UZH

Per year, UZH uses 111,307 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy. The total is made up of 58% electricity, 35% district heating, 6% natural gas, 1% heating oil, and a small amount of woodchips.

More facts and figures about energy at UZH

Saving energy together

UZH also counts on the initiative and creativity of the UZH community. Each and every individual can help to save energy through their behavior. 

Saving energy together: Tips and FAQ